How to get US Replacement Medals

Military medals remind us of what our loved ones or we have done for our country. They are mementos that can be passed down through the generations, proudly displayed, and shown to friends and family. However, medals are small and valuable. 


They may easily be lost or stolen, especially if you have collected many medals over the course of a long and distinguished career. Many military families move frequently, and veterans often move into group homes. This makes it even more likely that a few medals will be misplaced through the years. 


The veteran in your life may talk about their missing medals or not. They may say that it doesn’t matter whether they have a marker of their military service or not. However, replacing medals may mean a lot to the veteran or member of the armed services in your life. If you are the one who is missing medals, don’t just think about what they mean to you–think about what they may mean to your loved ones after you’re gone. 


Here is what you need to know about getting US Replacement medals.

Who Buys Replacement Medals?

  • Family remembrance. If your family member or loved one served in the military and has since passed away, you may want as many tokens as you can to remember their many accomplishments. If your family member lost medals, you may ask for replacement medals.
  • A gift. If your loved one lost medals for any reason, replacing them can be a deeply thoughtful gift that your loved will appreciate forever. Since you need the authority of the veteran or their next of kin to get medals, you may have to spoil the surprise, but it will still be deeply appreciated. 

How Can I Get a Replacement Award from the Government?

If you have lost your medal or it has been damaged, you as the veteran or military service member can make a request to the government for a replacement award. 


If the veteran or military service person is deceased or unable to provide authorization, the next of kin can request the purchase of the award. For the army, the next of kin is a surviving spouse, eldest child, mother or father, eldest sibling, or eldest grandchild. For the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, next of kin is the un-remarried widow or widower, daughter, son, father, brother, mother, or sister.


What to Include in the Replacement Request

  • Direct your replacement request for medals, awards, and decorations to the military branch in which the veteran served, unless they belonged to the army air corps or army veterans. In this case,direct requests to the National Personnel Records Center. 
  • Obtain Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records,” from VA offices or online at 
  • Clearly type or print:
    • The Veteran’s full name, including the branch of service
    • Service number or social security number
    • Exact or approximate dates of service
    • Signature of the Veteran or next of kin if the Veteran is deceased
    • If available, include a copy of discharge or separation documents
    • If available, include DD Form 214 or WDAGO Form 53-55

What if You Don’t Have Discharge or Separation Papers?

Veterans or their next of kin in the case that a veteran is deceased can obtain duplicate copies of discharge or separation papers from the VA portal or by completing forms online. You can also wite the National Personnel Records Center for replacement papers. 

You’ll be Glad that You Got Replacement Medals

You’ll be glad that you chose to buy US replacement medals, whether you’re replacing your won medals or doing so for a loved one or friend. Medals matter, even if you only pull them out occasionally to remember and share. 


Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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